Bayou Indian Tribe Has Stopped Eating Gulf Seafood Because of Contamination Fears


On tribal land in a bayou far away from the national spotlight, a Native American group working with some of the Gulf’s best-known environmentalists is reporting that – in at least one location where oil could not be seen or smelled – tests on soil and shellfish have indicated high levels of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), “carcinogenic contaminants that carry the fingerprint of the BP oil spill.”

That news comes in the context of an interesting report from the Epoch Times, and the story illustrates that to understand exactly what we mean by “destroying a way of life,” it’s helpful to see well beyond the headlines.

ET reporter Joshua Philipp looks at the Native American Pointe-au-Chien tribe in Louisiana, a French-speaking community of roughly 682 people. It’s not just that most of the tribe’s income came from seafood, but that seafood made up the lion’s share of their diet. And – like many people who work closely with the Gulf waters – they have stopped eating seafood because of contamination fears.

While some in the region’s media are heralding a return to business as usual, they know better (much better) along Bayou Pointe-au-Chien. For one thing, reports Epoch, the spill is far from over: “… oil can still be seen on the shores in the area. It washes in, kills the grass, and as the soil erodes it washes back out again to continue the cycle.”

Reports the ET: The tribe has worked with environmentalists to conduct contamination tests on local shellfish and soil from Gulf waters that revealed high levels of toxins. Members of the tribe are working with Lower Mississippi River Keeper Paul Orr, from the Water Keeper Alliance, the organization that found the infamous “Dead Bird Island.”

Wilma Subra, an award-winning chemist who conducted the tests, told the ET in an earlier interview: “We did find [PAHs] in large quantities in the soil sediment, as well as in vegetation and organisms – oysters and some in the crabs.”

Ms. Subra also told ET that other contamination was also found, and “we’re not talking parts-per-million or parts-per-billion….It was there in substantial concentrations.”

Read the Epoch Times story here:

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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